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Bangor’s Fourth of July celebration will be postponed until September this year, making it the latest tradition upended by the new coronavirus.
The downtown parade and fireworks that mark a high point of the summer have been rescheduled for Sept. 5, during Labor Day weekend, according to Mike Fern, president of the Greater Bangor 4th of July Corp., the nonprofit that organizes the annual Independence Day festivities.
This year’s celebration also will be renamed COVID Independence Day, Fern said in a Wednesday statement, to honor Mainers’ sacrifices over the past several weeks to halt the coronavirus’ spread. The name refers to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
“We feel moving the celebration to the Saturday before Labor Day will still give everyone in the area an opportunity to celebrate our independence from not one, but two truly remarkable events in our history — remarkable unfortunately in very different ways,” Fern said.
The decision to postpone the Fourth of July celebration comes after announcements to cancel Bangor’s Memorial Day parade and other major summer festivities, including the Maine Lobster Festival and the North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland, the Potato Blossom Festival in Fort Fairfield, and the Yarmouth Clam Festival. Those decisions followed the unveiling of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ four-stage plan to ease coronavirus-related restrictions, which includes a 50-person limit for public gatherings from June through August.
Bangor’s 2020 Fourth of July celebration was to include a larger parade, performances by the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and Bangor Band and a larger fireworks display.
Fern said that the September celebration won’t include the annual pancake breakfast and the concerts to limit crowds gathering.
The 40th annual Walter Hunt Memorial 3K Race also won’t be held on July 4, and it’s not yet clear whether it will be held during Labor Day weekend. Another race is scheduled for Labor Day, Sept. 7.
“The COVID-19 situation won’t go away entirely by then, but hopefully we’ll emerge from the summer in a better place than we are now. More people will be working, school will be back in session and Maine will return to some sort of normalcy,” Fern said.
Watch: Janet Mills outlines her plan to reopen